Rail Tours

Ian McFadyen Interview

What sparked your interest in train travel and railways?

I think probably getting the Big Book of British Trains when I was about 8 followed by a classic Triang train set when I was 9.

Do you think your inner David Rabbitborough (Attenborough) might make an appearance on this tour? You will be seeing some spectacular wildlife!

I’m sure David Rabbitborough would be fascinated with many of the people and sights we will see along the way. I’m not sure if his safari suit still fits him but he may well have some comments about both travellers and locations.

David Rabbitborough

What are some of the most memorable train journeys you have had?

Mostly ones I experienced as a student in the Sixties travelling around Australia to film the last of the steam engines: crossing the Nullarbor in comfort on the old Trans-Australian train only to change onto something resembling cattle trucks at Kalgoorlie, riding in guard’s vans on remote outback lines where there was no passenger service, even getting a lift in the cab of a steam locomotive.

What do you love about travelling?

Experiencing spectacular landscapes and the romance of going to places you’ve never been before.

Have you had any really hairy train journeys?

The cattle-truck-like train from Kalgoorlie to Perth in 1968 felt like it was going to come off the tracks but the most arduous was sitting up all night on the Rockhampton Mail, train that went overnight from Brisbane to Rockhampton stopping at every town.

What highlights can members of the upcoming NZ Railway tour expect?

Breathtaking scenery, a superb cruise ship experience, wonderful company and a very entertaining host.

You have become renowned for your paintings – will you be bringing your brushes on tour?

Alas, turpentine in your luggage tends to trigger anti-terrorism responses. In any case there is too much spectacular scenery to ever have time to paint, so my camera will have to do the painting.

Tour details here

Cruise Offers

Carnival Spirit’s Australian Departures Now on Sale

Carnival Cruise Lines is thrilled to be dropping anchor in Australia for the first time, with the launch of year-round itineraries on Carnival Spirit in October 2012.

Carnival Spirit will offer eight to 12-day cruises to the Pacific Islands from Sydney with limited sailings to New Zealand and select cruises from Melbourne.

Offering Australians the best in cruising holidays – Carnival Spirit combines the quality, excitement and fun that makes Carnival the world’s most popular cruise line.

At first glance, you’ll notice that Carnival Spirit is as long as three footy fields and has 10 different open-deck spaces to choose from, each offering a distinctive experience.
Kids and “big kids” can splash, swim, scream and slide into action at one of the three pools, or Carnival WaterWorksTM featuring a splash park and two speedy water slides. Exclusively for the Australian market, guests can go for action adventure by testing out the steepest water slide
to feature on a cruise liner.

If social is more their thing, guests enjoy good times with good friends by indulging in the full onboard entertainment program including live band karaoke and ‘The Punchliner’ comedy club. While others test their Aussie trivia knowledge with regular quizzes on the outdoor lido area or become a master of mixology with a cocktail making contest.

When rest and relaxation is in order, Carnival can guests indulge in some quality time-out in the child-free, SerenityTM pool area or an intimate table for two in the Steakhouse.
Whatever the mood, Carnival Spirit has been enhanced specifically for Australians and our Aussie Cruise Director, Stu, will have an experience to suit everyone’s holiday – day and night.

The first ever Australian brochure from Carnival Cruise Lines features eight to 12 day cruises to New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji as well as 13 day cruises to the wonders of New Zealand and two Australian coastal samplers.

Whether cruising as a couple, group of friends or family, Carnival Spirit has a wide range of spacious and well-appointed staterooms to choose from, including over 600 balcony staterooms. Families in particular will appreciate the interconnecting staterooms and the quad balcony staterooms, but book soon as these will fill up quickly.

With bookings open now we’re inviting Aussies to come aboard, join us and have the kind of holiday they’ve only imagine.  Visit or call 1800 616 434 to book .

Source: Complete Cruise Solution


Art Festival Cruise to New Zealand

Fifty two painters, led by artists Greg Allen, Amanda Hyatt and John Lovett have now returned to Australia after a wonderful two weeks aboard the “Sun Princess” as it cruised to New Zealand.

The tour commenced in Sydney and in the two day trans Tasman crossing the painters settled down to work under the expert tuition and guidance of their selected artist.

Each day at sea began with a painting demo in the Shooting Stars Nightclub which the group had reserved especially for them on their days at sea. After their respective workshops, individual painters were free to continue their painting or, as many did, explore the ship or participate in many of the activities on board.

Day three and the “Sun Princess” had arrived at the Bay of Islands in the north island of New Zealand This was our first land based painting day. A quick trip by ferry to Russell and the three workshops then commenced with each artist selecting a location along the beautiful seashore of this historic town. After lunch the group then enjoyed a brief visit to Waitangi Treaty House before rejoining the ship once again. After all this painting and sightseeing, everyone had worked up quite an appetite for dinner which was admirably attended to in the Regency or Marquis dining rooms.

For the next seven days, the painting group visited towns and cities along the eastern seaboard, including Auckland – a wonderful painting location was selected by the artists at Devonport across the harbour affording magnificent views of the City of Sails, as Auckland is known – Tauranga and a visit to Wai O Tapu thermal wonderland at Rotorua and the art deco town of Napier. The capital of New Zealand, Wellington, completed our last city on the north island before we crossed the strait, which separates the north and south islands.

Our first port of call in the south island was idyllic Christchurch, where the groups set up their painting easels alongside the beautiful Avon River and its historic bridges. In the afternoon a couple of the groups continued their painting in Cathedral Square, the scene of much devastation with the terrible earthquake only a short few days after our visit. Our last port of call in the south island was Dunedin with its Scottish heritage. The day culminated in a visit to historic Olverston House which was widely acclaimed by all

After all of the excitement of painting and visiting in such wonderful surroundings many of the group certainly would have liked more painting time on land. However, these thoughts soon disappeared as the ship sailed through Fiordland in the south west corner of New Zealand. This magnificent scenery was made all the more brilliant under a bright blue sky.

During the next couple of days the group settled once more into their final on board painting workshops, buoyed by the critiques of their paintings by the artists and the wonderful displays of their favourite works of art, for all to see.

A highlight of this time was the group painting by Greg, Amanda and John as they painted a large three sheet painting of the “Sun Princess” as it toured Milford Sound. One of our group kindly donated this to the ship and this was gratefully accepted by the Captain – we hope that this work of art will be on display for all future travellers on the “Sun Princess” to see.

This was first painting workshop / cruise conducted in this part of the world by The International Artist Magazine and Travelrite International and was judged by all as being a great success – a great way to combine their love of painting under the watchful eye of internationally acclaimed artists whilst enjoying the sightseeing of our wonderful neighbouring country.

Look out for this, or a similar, cruise themed painting workshop being repeated again very soon. Please visit for further information

G R Whitelock
March 2011